May 17, 2017

Combined-degree program offers students path to future in engineering and business

Schulich School of Engineering and Haskayne School of Business team up to offer BSc(Eng) and BComm in as little as five years

Micrometers versus macroeconomics. Centrifugation or supply-chain management? In short, Schulich School of Engineering, or Haskayne School of Business?

It’s a question facing many eager students, and for 21-year-old Scott McNichol, that was the quandary — choosing between two academic paths, each equally enticing for an undergraduate weighing future career success, but until now, available only as separate programs at the University of Calgary.

“Before I came to the university, I was torn between pursuing engineering or business, and when I saw the opportunity to do both, I jumped at it,” says McNichol.

“It’s an intense amount of work, but to graduate with both degrees is huge value. It does require a lot of commitment, but if you keep the payoff in mind, it’s absolutely worthwhile.”

UCalgary first in Western Canada to offer combined engineering and commerce degrees

McNichol is one of nine students in the first cohort of the first university program in Western Canada to offer Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce undergraduate degrees in as little as five years of study.

The University of Calgary officially launched the program Tuesday and celebrated with a strong show of support: a $5-million gift from Clayton and Linda Woitas and family. Clayton Woitas is a Calgary Business Hall of Fame laureate and is currently the chair of Encana’s board of directors. Linda Woitas is the former director of human resources for the Calgary Catholic School District and is a double alumna, DipEd’76 and MEd’91, with a passion for education. Their children Josh Woitas, BComm’03 and MBA’05, and Carson Woitas BSc’08 and MBA’16, are also double alumni from the University of Calgary and Josh is a Dinos Hockey alumnus.

“This city, province and country needs exactly this kind of program and the graduates it will produce. We are thrilled our family can support this program and its students,” says Clayton Woitas.

“An excellent education in engineering or business can go a long way, but a program that combines both will provide the best of both worlds. It is an exciting opportunity to be part of this initiative and we wish all students well as they take on this significant challenge,” adds Linda Woitas.

Generous Woitas family gift supports program delivery and support activities

The gift from the Woitas family is part of the university’s Energize: the Campaign for Eyes High, UCalgary’s $1.3-billion fundraising campaign that formally launched in April 2016. The campaign is more than halfway to its goal, thanks to support from the Woitas family and other community leaders who are fuelling transformational change for our city and beyond. This gift will specifically support delivery of the program in and out of the classroom, program marketing, student recruitment and scholarships. 

More than just a convenient solution, the BSc(Eng)/BComm combined program aims to train a new kind of leader by leveraging the strengths of the world-class business and engineering education offered at the University of Calgary.

President and Vice-Chancellor Elizabeth Cannon says this unique program responds to the needs of a changing community by preparing students for career success and providing industry with the people they need.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Woitas family, the University of Calgary is in a better position to help our students succeed in this new and critically important program,” says Cannon. “Just as Alberta’s economy is diversifying and growing, so too is the demand for agile, creative problem-solvers who can work across different disciplines. Graduates of this new hybrid program will be equipped with a broad skill set to support their success in a wide range of careers.”

Shared program offers demanding schedule, unparalleled reward

Schulich School of Engineering Dean Bill Rosehart describes the program as a natural fit for students seeking the best of both academic worlds, through programs that complement each other in entrepreneurship and creative thinking.

“This shared program is a first for Western Canada, and the ability to combine engineering and business opens new doors and broadens career horizons for our students. This is another example of how we are committed to supporting student success,” says Rosehart.

Jim Dewald, dean of the Haskayne School of Business, and himself an engineer with business degrees, says the new program will help future engineers better understand the business side of the projects they will work on. And entrepreneurially minded innovators will be better equipped to start businesses.

“This kind of program is long overdue in a city like Calgary and I am confident these students will make a significant impact in our community,” says Dewald.

Students enrolled in the program face a demanding schedule, but for those up to the task, the reward is unparalleled.

“I would highly recommend it, but each student needs to decide if they are ready for the challenge,” says Aster Lau, another of the nine students enrolled in the first cohort.

“For me it’s been ideal, because I needed to decide between engineering and business, and now I can do both.”